Today, your workday starts the moment you look at your phone, rather than the moment you walk into the …. office?
Do you even walk into an office or do you just pad over to the next room in your pajamas?
Of course, if your meeting was outside of the office, you’d have to plan some extra time because you might get lost or have to pull over and look at a paper map.
The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated a shift toward remote work that was already afoot. The change was dramatic. But we’re stilljust starting to internalize work-from-home and remote options.
What are some of the changes we can expect over the next decade? Here are some of Hugo’s best guesses.
The most obvious change is that, with remote work, you can live anywhere. Large cities no longer have an economic advantage for companies or individuals.
People will have the option to live in smaller cities, remote villages, or even other countries. You’ll work from wherever you want, living in the community or region of your choice.
Plenty of companies are dealing with multiple legal systems due to their worldwide presence. Different jurisdictions have always competed for corporate business with preferential tax laws.
With remote-enabled workforces, cities and countries are now competing for individuals, not just companies. We recently saw the huge migrations out of Silicon Valley to locations such as Miami and Texas. Countries such as Estonia and Malta, as well as jurisdictions such as Puerto Rico, offer favorable conditions for individuals and small businesses, making it easy for people to have a regular contract for a company anywhere in the world.
Today, people use freelance platforms or incorporate locally to manage this situation. In the future, we can look forward to more regulations that make it easy for small and medium businesses to navigate these cross-border worker environments and offer full benefits packages without having to open multiple entities.
Automation both of rote and manual work means that economies can supply people’s basic needs with less labor. In other words, everything from housing to food to education is becoming less expensive, even nominal in cost. With the need for less labor, there will be less work to do. Economies and governments will need to find better ways to distribute basic needs, and people will be free to work fewer hours per week, as automation makes their jobs more efficient.
Async on the rise
Asynchronous communication has been on the rise for a decade, and we’ll continue to see asynchronous as a preferred method for global teams. Professionals will get more comfortable with short-form video platforms such as Loom and voice messages to add richness to their asynchronous communications.
Get the knowledge you need
Since the advent of computer systems, companies have struggled to get the right information to the right people at the right time. Everyone has experienced difficulties in finding a document from another department, getting all of the customer information coordinated in one place, or finding all of the messages on a particular topic. That’s just the information you’re looking for.
What about that departmental, product or company update that’s relevant to your job? How can anyone keep up or even know what updates to follow in their company?
Technology companies are addressing different aspects of this problem. We recently interviewed Front, a company that coordinates customer information. Social media companies have created optimization algorithms that give everyone a customized feed that interests them. Imagine spending less time searching for information and having your desktop populated with the most relevant information for you.
Documentation: having the knowledge available
Of course, you can only get the information you need if it’s well documented. Companies will place a high value on good internal documentation and curation.
Some of that curation will be done by automation, for example, automatic transcription software. However, AI is still far from being able to discern the most important or insightful parts of a meeting. After all, some of the best ideas are the ones that don’t fit any pattern.
Having the ability to summarize, curate, and communicate in written format will continue to be a high-value and essential skill.
No more wasted time traveling to meetings
While some interactions require face-to-face meetings, we can expect that those meetings that moved online will stay online. After all, who wants to spend an hour driving across the city to a customer if you can just click a button and talk to them from the comfort of your own office?
With you strive from a 4-hour meeting week, what’s the point if you spend 4 more hours getting to those meetings?
With the right skills for running virtual meetings, you can get as much or even more value from your remote meetings.
But you’ll feel like you were there
While most online meetings take place in standard video format, “Virtual Worlds” such as Gather.Town, Topia, SpacialChat, TeamFlow, here.fm, and highfidelity.com are increasingly being used for conferences, meetups, and networking events.
Virtual Worlds allow people to “walk around” and meet one another in two-dimensional screen space. You can only see and hear people that are “near” your avatar. For breakout sessions, networking, and brainstorming, this kind of mingling platform adds flavor and allows people to group according to interest and enter and leave conversations in a more natural way.
Two-dimensional virtual worlds are only the beginning. Virtual reality is close to the level where people could have a “real life” type of experience with one another using virtual reality headsets and wearables. VR meetings will allow people to do everything they would do in a physical conference room, without having to go anywhere.
And, occasionally, you really will be there
No matter what technology you put in place, people are social creatures and the value of physical meetings simply cannot be replicated by technology. Companies may no longer have offices and headquarters, but they’ll find ways to come together. For conferences, annual all-company meetings, and other gatherings, the options will open up.
In addition to the traditional conference and retreat centers, expect to see a variety of gathering venues. Temporary office parks, co-working spaces, drive-in RV working parks, and corporate campus rentals are some of the creative ideas that we’ll see implemented for company get-togethers.